Torture’s benefits don’t exist


I watched an hilarious exchange between former Minnesota governor, Jesse Ventura and a Fox TV chat show host who I must admit I was not very impressed with at all.  However they talked about whether waterboarding was torture and necessary for today’s American body politic.  The Fox host repeated several canards that weren’t really addressed by Ventura although he made up for a lack of response with passion and directing the argument in ways he wanted.  I want to briefly address some of the points from a document put together by the folks at Think Progress which I have alluded to in another post.

1. Information from enhanced techniques is unreliable.

This has been stated by several branches of government from the military to the FBI who have all concluded torture doesn’t yield any actionable intelligence and the opposite of torture, rapport building gives a far higher yield.  It’s not as gory or satisfying to the sadistic nature of today’s neocons but it gets results. In fact, according to some, torture gets in the way of intelligence gathering and has negative effects.

2. The torture of Khalid Shaikh Muhammad and Abu Zubayday produced no valuable intelligence.

CIA and FBI officials have gone on record saying nothing was gained from torturing either of those two individuals and they were both tortured scores of time.

“The proponents of torture say, ‘Look at the body of information that has been obtained by these methods.’ But if K.S.M. and Abu Zubaydah did give up stuff, we would have heard the details,” says Cloonan. “What we got was pabulum.” A former C.I.A. officer adds: “Why can’t they say what the good stuff from Abu Zubaydah or K.S.M. is? It’s not as if this is sensitive material from a secret, vulnerable source. You’re not blowing your source but validating your program. They say they can’t do this, even though five or six years have passed, because it’s a ‘continuing operation.’ But has it really taken so long to check it all out?”

And again, there’s this:

As for K.S.M. himself, who (as Jane Mayer writes) was waterboarded, reportedly hung for hours on end from his wrists, beaten, and subjected to other agonies for weeks, Bush said he provided “many details of other plots to kill innocent Americans.” K.S.M. was certainly knowledgeable. It would be surprising if he gave up nothing of value. But according to a former senior C.I.A. official, who read all the interrogation reports on K.S.M., “90 percent of it was total fucking bullshit.” A former Pentagon analyst adds: “K.S.M. produced no actionable intelligence. He was trying to tell us how stupid we were.”

I strongly urge you to go to the document linked above to read it in its entirety.  It’s very well sourced and proves conclusively that torture was not responsible for any intelligence which prevented further attacks against America, that it was viewed as illegal by many of the people the Bush Administration sought to envelope in the torture fabric and that it is prosecutable should the legal community have the will to press charges against those responsible.  Why that hasn’t happened is something politicians in the next election should have to answer.

Christian Evangelism and Christian-Jewish Zionism have destroyed the Republican Party


That’s not me talking, although I believe it and more.  Not wanting to stop at just the Republican Party, I believe the two forces in the headline above are on their way to wrecking the country, the Republic of America in ways that could be irreparable.  The above forceful statement was made by a former Republican Frank Schaeffer who came to his realization after years of rubbing elbows with Republicans and their colleagues both the famous and the foot soldiers.  Schaeffer echoes themes that are very prominent in the blogsphere about the nature of today’s America and her alliances.  Several quotes of his are right on the money.

Two religions (in the broadest sense of the term) have destroyed the Republican Party: evangelical Christianity and Christian/Jewish Zionism. Evangelical Christianity created the Religious Right which forever linked the Republican Party to the antiabortion, anti-sex education, anti-evolution and anti-gay crusades. And both Christian and Jewish Zionism linked the Republican Party to what became the neoconservative movement with its roots in such publications as Commentary magazine and their shrill Israel-can-do-no-wrong anti-Arab agenda. (I knew the late editor of Commentary Norman Podhoretz quite well, and we met several times to build alliances between evangelicals and the far American Zionist far right. When it came to Arabs, I believe he was a real racist.)

So what did the Republicans become? They are the party of unnecessary wars both actual and cultural and the party of the rich — those who never serve in the military, just put up flags to “support the troops.” The actual war in Iraq was (as everyone knew with a wink and a nod, but few dared say) really about our commitment to Christian and Jewish Zionism as it was “understood” by the born-again fool Bush. The culture war is also an unnecessary and unmitigated war that pitted the “real America” (in other words white mostly uneducated, lower-middle-class evangelical/Catholic working Americans) against everyone else.

The writer’s conclusion is equally insightful.  I wish other writers would write as clearly and explicitly as Schaeffer.  Because they don’t, I conclude with his words.

The choice for America has always been between inclusive pluralism and exclusion. The kind of religion and Evangelical/Zionist/neoconservative cabal used to take over the interests of the Republican Party is just too small for this big diverse, tolerant and open country of ours. So the Republicans have a choice: become an American political party again serving American interests or continue to serve the narrowly defined religious interests of two angry and fearful Jewish/Evangelical minorities who are themselves bastardized offshoots of their Christian and Jewish traditions.

From the ‘he’s an idiot department’


idiotOur parents always told us never speak ill of the dead, but in the case of the guy in this post, I want to wake him up from the dead and slap him silly.  He’s the poster child for stupid behavior.  Why anyone would point a gun to their own head and claim they’re doing that to show people the importance of gun safety is S-T-U-P-I-D.  It’s not enough that firearms owners are given the evil eye by non-owners, and are always threatened or feel threatened with confiscation of their weapons by an over reaching government, but to give opponents of private ownership of weapons the ammunition, pardon the pun, to berate, deride, ridicule, encroach and infringe on that right, is……….well suicide as Mr. Benally found out.  For all the do gooders out there, here’s a tip for you.  Never point a weapon at your head, ever!  And if you’re not smart enough to follow that rule, then don’t do it in front of people and claim to give them a safety demonstration of how to use a firearm!  Jeez.